Saturday, December 19, 2015

Kids' Christmas Family Day

A couple weekends ago, we had a family fun Christmas day.  Originally, we were just supposed to go to a P&G kids Christmas shindig.  However, Steve discovered that a nearby town was having a big kids festival with a parade, free activities and food.  Even though it was a little cold and going to be a lot crammed into in the morning, we decided we could make both work. 

So we pulled out our winter gear, loaded the car and headed to the Christmas parade.  We found a great parking spot and didn't see many people around.  We parked right along the parade route and could have stayed in the car, but since no one else was around, we were slightly concerned that maybe the parade wasn't really going to be that exciting.  We committed to the plan and decided to walk down a couple blocks to the main area where Santa was supposed to be (he would be riding in on a fire truck in the parade).  There was already a huge line (like a block long) of parents and kids waiting to see Santa! We got some hot chocolate, a cookie, and cotton candy and waited for the parade. 

(Trying to keep warm as we waited for the parade to start!  We were told it started at 9:45 at one location.  It was after 10 before we heard it coming down the street we were on.)

The parade ended up being sort of sad and sketchy, haha.  It was a bunch of golf carts with people dressed up as characters - Mickey, Minnie, Dora, Spongebob, Bart Simpson, etc.  They got off the carts at the end of the line (which is where we were standing).  Some of the characters had candy to pass out and you could get your picture taken with them (for free, not like in Europe and big cities where they want your money).  There were also different beauty pageant winners from around the area and of course, Santa! 

(Some of the characters being carted in - Olaf, Spongebob, Patrick, Mr. Krabs, Goofy, Bart & Homer Simpson.)

(Mickey & Minnie arrive.  Their ears were a little on the droopy side. . . )

(More characters! Buzz & Woody!)

(You can see Spongebob walking around greeting the kids as the rest of the parade came in.  There was a little band playing Christmas songs on the train.)

(Hard to see, but Santa was riding shotgun in the firetruck!) 

Once the parade was over, we walked around downtown and scoped out some of the activities.  Bean got to make a little ornament (it was just a little card on twine that she got to put different stamps on), and even decorate her own cookie.  There were gift bags and different treats at some of the stops, too.  It was cold out and we hit pretty much what we thought she'd enjoy.  We got to stop and pet some goats and see camels on our way out.  There was also a miniature pony ride, but the line was long and didn't know if she'd enjoy it.  

(We would pop into some of the shops and stops to warm up.  There was supposed to be a magician at this stop, but he wasn't there yet.  So instead, Bean just enjoyed hanging out with the giant nutcracker.)

So we headed back to the car and drove 30 minutes to the other side of the county for the P&G kids party.  Once we checked in, we immediately went over to see Santa.  Bean was excited to see him and walked straight up to him and got on his lap.  She acted so grown up about it! 

(Meeting Santa again!)

After Santa, we went to the first room where "Bean" got to stuff her own animal.  Okay, Steve and I had to do the stuffing, but she did pick out the animal.  She has really gotten into Rudolph, so she picked the reindeer.  We got to stuff one animal for her to keep and another animal to give to kids in need! Bean pretty much ran around in circles while we did it. 

After making the reindeer, we headed over to eat lunch (everything was free!) - chicken strips and mac'n'cheese.  Bean actually ate her lunch! Okay, maybe not much of the chicken strip, but she did eat all the mac'n'cheese.  She even somehow pilfered a cookie off of one of Steve's co-workers, ha! 

The last thing on our to do list was head to the craft room.  There were lots of tables set up with different crafts on them.  We just found a spot and did the craft at that table - make a little stocking ornament.  Once that was done, I went around and picked up a couple more things I thought Bean would enjoy.  She got to put some stickers on a paper Christmas tree and make a little foam Gingerbread girl.  She ended up naming the Gingerbread girl Sally (I think Steve came up with that) and Bean got super attached to her.  Sally slept in bed with Bean for the next week and got to color and play with her during the day, too.  

After the crafts, we decided it was time to head home (there was also a play room for toddlers and a room full of bounce castles and such, but Bean was too small).  We kept Bean awake in the car (30 min) so that she could take a longer nap when we got home.  Steve wasn't feeling the greatest by the afternoon.  He woke up with a running nose and I just thought it was allergies.  By bedtime, he had a fever and was achy.  I guess since I was sick (puking) the weekend before, he was allowed a sick pass, too.  It took him a few days to get over it, but he did. Hopefully we are all through the sicknesses for awhile!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Thanksgiving Celebrations

I LOVE Thanksgiving!  I love how it kicks off the holiday season, brings family together, and all the food!  With family spread over different states, we have to be strategic about celebrating holidays.  Lucky for us, we get to have TWO celebrations for holidays!

Thanksgiving Round 1:

We had our first Thanksgiving with my family the weekend before the actual holiday.  We headed to IN after Steve got off work on Friday.  We stopped for dinner halfway and got to my parents' house around 8 o'clock.  At home, Bean is in bed by then, but on a travel day, bedtime routine goes out the window. She was all wound up - especially since two cousins were spending the night! So after lots of giggles and running around, we finally forced her to go to sleep!

On Saturday, my brother and his family along with my sister and the rest of her family came over.  We all chipped in with different responsibilities for the meal so that it wasn't all dumped on my mom.  The meal was wonderful, but the time with family was the best!  Bean had a little meltdown in the morning, and earned herself some alone time (I thought she'd nap, but she wouldn't). After some snuggles and reading a few books alone, she seemed to snap out of it and allowed to partake in the family festivities.

(The only picture I took all weekend -- We were watching White Christmas, much to my brother-in-law's dismay.  So my dad tried to make him like the movie by singing along with the music to my brother-in-law.  Willises be crazy!)

Bean was a little wound up from all the fun and decided to be up all night.  We sleep in the same room with her at my parents, and she has that figured out.  She ended up in bed with me.  I dozed off and on, but not really sure how much she slept.  I'd roll over and see her sitting, or she'd be playing with her legs in the air.  Whatever.  I was able to somewhat sleep, and that's all I cared about :).  We had a lazy morning and packed up our stuff.  My sister and her family came back over for lunch and we headed out after we ate.

Thanksgiving Round 2:

We had a couple of days at home before we headed out for Thanksgiving round 2! I was able to get us unpacked, laundry done, repacked, AND put up all the rest of our Christmas decorations.  Steve was able to get off work on Wednesday just a little bit early.  I had the car packed up and we were ready to go.  We hit the road, headed south, and met up with Steve's family in Cincinnati for dinner! Nanny & Poppy (Steve's grandparents), Mommom, Poppop, Scott and Ashley were all there.  Bean was a little grouchy at the start of dinner.  I've learned she gets very "Hangry" when she needs to eat.  With her picky eating, it tends to happen a lot more frequently since she won't eat what I prepare for her to snack on.  Mommom brought her some markers and a coloring book and won her over.

We headed Scott and Ashley's after dinner.  We set up our room - we got the basement.  We were able to put Bean back in the corner so she was shielded from us.  We had the option to put her in her own room, but I didn't want to have to walk up 2 flights of stairs if she got up at night! Steve and I slept on an air mattress.  I was worried about how that would go since I toss and turn a lot more at night now trying to get comfortable.  It ended up being fine, though.

On Thursday morning, Bean and I got up and were ready to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving day parade together, only I was an hour ahead! Ha, oops! Ashley had got stickers for Bean to play with and Bean quickly got involved in that activity.  The stickers are reusable ones that you put on scenes in the provided book. However, Bean liked putting them on the big windows more.  So she'd point out on the sheet to Poppop or Ashley which sticker she wanted, they'd take it off, and she'd go place it in her collection on the window.  Bean was too focused on stickers to watch the parade, maybe next year she'll share in my affinity for it.

(Coloring with Aunt Ashley! Bean remembered where the crayons were located and went straight there asking Ashley to color with her.)

(Pointing out which sticker she wanted Poppop to get for her.)

(She then would put it onto the window and excitedly run back for another sticker! She ended up running out of space and we had to open the shade on the next window.  It took help from everyone to get all the stickers off the windows and back onto their appropriate pages.)

There was a lot of activity in the kitchen trying to get the lunch meal ready.  Ashley had everything organized and assigned jobs for everyone (mine was the mashed potatoes).  We planned to eat at 1, but the turkey took a little longer.  Bean was starting to get hangry (plus again, being a picky eater, there was nothing in the meal that she would eat.  We gotta work on this food thing!).  So she ate spaghetti while we waited for the food.  She joined us for the blessing of the meal, then she bid every night-night and I took her down and put her to bed! It made our meal just a little bit easier not trying to convince her to eat and entertain her while we leisurely ate.

(Eating her spaghetti before we had our Thanksgiving lunch!)

(Happy Thanksgiving from Cincinnati!  We missed Ian and look forward to seeing him at Christmas!)

The rest of the afternoon was just spent relaxing and enjoying time with the family.  There were 2 main rooms to hang out in.  1 room was a "devices free zone" and the other had the tv (devices allowed!).  There were a few good football games on in the afternoon, so you can guess where Steve and I spent most of our time ;).  Bean happily ran back and forth between the rooms doing stickers or playing with the toys that I had brought from home.

On Friday, there were several options of activities to be done.  I decided that Bean and I would only be partaking in 1 activity and that it needed to be the morning one.  So we headed with the family to the Krohn Conservatory.  They had decorated some of the rooms with different Christmas scenes and trains.  Bean enjoyed walking through the plants and looking for trains.  She especially liked going through the cave behind the waterfall (we even went twice!).  There was a little kids coloring room that was probably her favorite.  She got upset when it was time to go.  We headed back to Scott and Ashley's for lunch and naptime.  Naptime wasn't coordinated well for everyone, so people were all asleep at different times, haha.  The afternoon activity ended up being missed.  Poppop brought up the idea of getting some Grater's ice cream.  He got Bean on his team for ice cream and some of us headed out!

(Coloring with Mommom at the conservatory. Although, I think coloring quickly turned into take all the crayons out of the bucket and put them all over the table.)

Poppop made his famous spaghetti for dinner and we had another quiet evening with the family on Friday.  After Bean went to bed, we watched a new Amazon Prime show (The Man in the High Castle) with Poppop & Ashley while Mommom used a dehydrator to make turkey jerkey.

Bean had been sleeping good the first 2 nights we were there.  I'm not sure what changed, but the last night was not a good night.  She was tossing and turning a lot when we went to bed, and then she caught me going to the bathroom in the middle of the night.  She started crying and wouldn't lay back down.  She kept saying, "lay down with momma."  So I put her on the air mattress with us.  It was like reliving the bad night at my parents.  I'm not sure how much sleeping she did. I would doze off and on between the jabs of her feet in my back and her head on my pillow.  I knew we would be in for a loooong Saturday.

I didn't feel the best on Saturday.  I was pretty nauseous, which wasn't anything unusual.  I hit 11 weeks pregnant while in Cincinnati.  Typically, I'd have a few good days and then a few bad days.  So I wasn't surprised by the bad day (I had had a couple of good days prior!).  I stuck to chewing my gum and drinking water and pushed through.  It was great having all the help with Bean while we were there.  I was able to rest a lot and not have to be on my feet a lot.  Some of the family went out for a mid morning activity.  It wasn't going to be very kid friendly, so Steve and I just stayed home with Poppop & Bean.  She played with Play-doh  (Mommom brought it) and stickers.

After nap, we said bye to Nanny & Poppy (well, Bean wasn't up in time to say goodbye).  Ashley and Mommom took them to the airport.  I got us all packed up and Steve loaded up the car. When they got back, we went to Bass Prop Shop so that Bean could meet Santa.  I wasn't sure how it was going to go, but she ended up sitting on his lap with no problem! We even got a little smile out of her!  From there, we headed over to Dewey's for some pizza!  We had to wait a half hour, but it is always worth the wait.  I was starting to feel more sick by the time food came.  I just chalked it up to being hungry.  I ate a slice and had to quickly swallow a couple of bites because my gag reflex was kicking in.  I thought maybe it had to do with the flavor (bbq chicken) and tried a smaller piece with plain sauce.  I was able to eat that small slice, but called it quits on the pizza.

(Picture with Santa! They had little coloring stations set up as you waited in line.  She was very adamant that she wanted to hold her picture as she sat on Santa's lap.  It drove the photographer crazy, but I said let her have it.  She's still holding it in this photo.)

We said bye to everyone after we ate and headed back to our house.  Steve's parents stuck around Ashley & Scott's for another day, but we had some church responsibilities and Steve had to get some stuff done on Sunday before work on Monday.  I felt miserable in the car.  Bean just sat and watched Dora all the way home while I just wallowed in self pity.  I couldn't entertain myself with my phone because it made me car sick.  And I was already fighting a lot of nausea. We got home a little after 9:30.  I went straight to work getting Bean to bed.  Once she was down, I crashed on our bed continuing to wallow in self pity.

Steve came in and tried to comfort me and get me whatever I needed.  I was tired, and felt super sick, and was tired of feeling sick and tired.  He calmed down and he went to shower to get ready for bed.  As I laid there, I felt worse and worse, and finally realized I couldn't fight it anymore.  I went to the other bathroom and lost my dinner.  I felt so much better after throwing up.  I got ready for bed and quickly fell asleep.  But that didn't last long, I woke up a few hours later feeling super sick again.  I knew the fight wasn't going to end well and went to the bathroom.  Steve heard me and came into the bathroom.  It took our relationship to a whole new level.  He rubbed my back and held my hair as I continued to throw up (only time he has ever seen me puke was at the beginning of labor, but my mom and nurse was there to help!).  We went back to bed and I again fell asleep.  I repeated the process a few hours later, only I told Steve to just stay in bed.  Finally around 4am, the puking stop and I just slept.

I felt awful the next day.  I was achy, I was tired, and still nauseous.  I nibbled on bland foods all day.  I'm super thankful it was a Sunday and that Steve was able to take on full Bean duty.  Bean didn't fully understand and wanted me to play with her.  We told her that "Momma's sick" and it stuck with her.  To this day, if I'm laying and tell her I need a minute before doing something, she'll respond with, "Momma's sick" and go about her play.  By Monday morning, I was back to my old self. I even ran a mile for the first time in a few months! As quickly as puke fest came on, it went away.  No one else got sick, so it somehow had to be some weird pregnancy thing!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


I found out I was pregnant right before our trip to Disney World, which is ironic because the last time we went to Disney, I discovered I was pregnant while there. Haha! 

This trip, I was a couple weeks further along and decided it wasn't smart to do any of the big rides.  I am typically the one who pushes to go on those rides with my dad, so I knew I had to out myself quickly.  Our first official day in the parks happened to be my dad's 60th birthday (and a day after Bean's birthday).  I wrote him a birthday card that talked about how 2 years ago I gave him Bean for his birthday, but my timing was wrong this go around and he'd have to wait until Father's day to meet the next baby.  I gave him the card as we were all standing in line for our first ride.  He was down the line from me and he looked up with big eyes and mouthed, "Does your mother know?!" I shook my head "no" and pointed - only you know.  He passed the card down to mom, and so on until everyone read it and knew I was pregnant. 

I felt great the first few weeks, then we got back from Disney.  I got sick (bronchitis) the weekend we got home.  By Monday, I felt so miserable (and being pregnant) deemed it important to just go to the doctor.  She put me on a z-pak and an inhaler to help with the wheezing/cough.  I went to the store, got my medicine, and returned home.  I started to make lunch for Bean and I and took my antibiotic.  15 min later, I threw up. Haha - Oh joys of pregnancy causing a weak stomach! I knew it wasn't the medicine, as I've had z-paks in the past.  The rest of the week was marked by recovering by bronchitis.

After that, it seemed I'd have a good week of feeling fine, then a week of being super nauseous.  I was tired and had zero energy around the clock.  I remember the zero energy when I was pregnant with Bean, but I don't remember being so mentally numb.  This time around, I got plagued with being apathetic.  I didn't have the mental energy to care about things - clean house, what food we ate, if projects got done, if I contacted people, etc.  I just was in survival mode - keep Bean alive/entertained and make it to bedtime.  I dealt with this issue from weeks 7-10.  I got behind on a lot of things - as seen on the blog! It finally got to where I just had to force myself to get up, get out, and do! I had a day where I had set appointments and things I HAD to get done. That did the trick.  I was able to get off the couch and just make things happen.  It made me realize that I needed to keep busy.  As much as I wanted to just lay and do nothing, I had to keep some sort of a schedule with something to accomplish each day.  

While dealing with the mental block, the nausea got worse.  Chewing gum and mints became my constant companions (they help me fight it).  I increased my water in take and that did seem to help.  I learned to eat smaller portions at set times.  I started to track my nausea and realized it was made worse when I was hungry and when I was too full.  So I had to find the sweet spot of not being hungry, but not eating too much - ha!  Aside from the antibiotic incident and a weird night of puking all night, I mostly just feel nauseous.   I started to have more good days than bad days, but I still will have a couple days a week where I struggle. 

How this pregnancy has been different:
- I have to put Bean's needs before my own.  With her, I was able to just lay around all day and watch movies.  This time around, I still need to be a mom and not just rely on the tv to entertain us.  We've set up a system of me being able to color with her and do puzzles with her as I lay on the couch.  She also sits up on the couch with me a lot and we play with her little figurines.  Her favorite thing is to put a blanket over us and "hide in a cave".  
- Have actually thrown up a few times.  I never did with Bean, but I did have nausea medicine I could use with her.  This time, I just rely on mints and gum.  
- Pain/Achy hips.  I already struggle with a lot of discomfort in my hips.  Sometimes it is so bad I can barely walk or it keeps me up at night.  It all has to do with hormones effecting ligaments and my body already knowing what's to come.  
- My tastes have changed.  I LOVE my sweets.  Before this pregnancy, I would eat a sweet each night before bed (and after lunch).  I also drank a couple soda's a day.  Now I can barely stomach sweets.  I can have them in small doses, but just prefer to stick to saltier foods.  I rarely drink soda now.  I went from 2 a day to maybe 2 a week.  I now crave ice water. Before, I'd just drink water because I felt I had to.  Now it's all I want.  I've also lost my taste for coffee.  I had switched to decaf back when we started discussing the possibility of another baby. But once I got pregnant, the thought of coffee made me sick to my stomach. I've been able to have some random cups in the past couple weeks. 
- I can "feel" the baby.  Okay, not really the baby yet.  It's too small to feel the movements yet. But I can feel my uterus.  There's days where it aches a ton and I know it is stretching/growing.  And I'm very aware of its location.  It doesn't help that I often have a toddler jumping and laying on my tummy, too!
- I don't care about being pregnant - ha! With Bean, I took weekly pictures, logged how I felt, and wanted everyone to know.  This time around, I'm 13 weeks and have only take 2 pictures.  I tried to keep the pregnancy more hush hush this time around because I didn't want it made into a big deal.  I'm glad it's public now though, so that I don't feel like I have to hide myself.  Especially now that I'm in 2nd trimester - what?!  
- Last time, I knew right away I wanted to call the baby Bean.  This time around, we finally came up with something to call it other than baby about a week ago.  We call this baby Sprout! (Confession, at home, we still just say baby, but will use Sprout on the blog!)

(We got to see Sprout for the first time at my 8 week appointment! Steve and Bean were both there.  She didn't believe us that that blob was a baby.)

(I chose this time to have some minor genetic testing done.  It's non-invasive, just a simple ultrasound to get some measurements and a blood test for me.  The test will check for down syndrome. We got to have an extra peek at Sprout.  This time, it actually looked like a baby!)

(So I didn't take my first bump photo until 10 weeks.  Then I thought, "Oh, I'll just take a photo every other week."  Well then I realized I missed the 12 week mark and had to take a random 12.5 picture because I didn't want to do it on odd weeks.  Anyone want to take bets on whether more pictures are actually taken?!)

(Bean has fallen in love with getting up on the couch with me.  She'll partly lay on me and likes to play with toys in a "cave" - blanket over us.  Sometimes, she'll start to get crazy, wiggles around a lot, and will put a lot of pressure on my tummy.  We talk a lot about their being a baby in my belly and she needs to be gentle.  She then lifted her shirt to ask about the baby in her belly. We need to work on this baby concept!)

Monday, December 14, 2015

Adding to the Family

We recently shared some big news on Facebook:

Bean is going to be a big sister this coming June!

So let me rewind the story back to where it starts in January! ***NOTE - the rest of this post talks about medical issues I had leading up to pregnancy.  If you don't care about the issues or the actual getting pregnant, just skip to the next blog post titled "Sprout"!***

 I started running last winter and got really consistent in December.  By January, I noticed some issues with my menstrual cycle and went to the doctor.  They thought there was a possible bacterial issue going on and put me on antibiotics.  It seemed to fix the problem so I didn't think much about it. I continued my mini-marathon training and increased my mileage in running.  Eventually, I noticed cycle issues creeping back in.  I just chalked it up to the running being stressful on my body and decided I'd go back to the doctor after the mini in May (I mean, what's 2 more crazy cycles by that point??). 

So I ran the mini and stopped running (mainly because I was "ran-out", but also had issues like losing toenails and cycle issues).  Steve encouraged me to take a break because he didn't think the positives of running were outweighing those negatives.  My cycles increased in craziness.  I finally cracked in June and made another appointment.  

So I went to the appointment in June and described how my cycle was all off.  I'd have some slight bleeding when a period was due, but it would turn to spotting, and then I'd randomly have a real period. The length of time of the pre-period bleeding increased from being a few days to being a few weeks by August.  At the June appointment, the doctor did an examine and said that the pre-bleeding could actually be from an irritation from a bacteria in my system (remember, I had that diagnosis and antibiotics only cleared it up for about a month).  I shared my concern with the doctor and he put me on a little bit heavier oral antibiotic this time.  I returned in July for a follow-up.  Antibiotics cleared up the bacteria, but the irregular bleeding remained.  

At the follow-up appointment in July, my doctor was out delivering a baby, so I saw his associate.  She decided that it was possible that my body needed a kick-start to get back onto a normal cycle.  We discussed going on birth control, but Steve and I were starting to toy with the idea of another kid. To me, that would solve my problem (irregular bleeding) -- get pregnant and stop it all together - ha! So she put me on Provera.  It didn't work and actually had some adverse effects.  I ended up waking up in the middle of the night and felt really weird.  My brain was foggy and I couldn't figure out what was wrong.  I went to the bathroom because that was as logical as I could think.  I ended up passing out on the bathroom floor. As quickly as the weirdness came on, I was completely fine after passing out.  I just went back to bed and told Steve in the morning. Haha

So I had a follow-up appointment at the beginning of September (number 4 for the year for those keeping track).  This time, I got to see my actual doctor.  He didn't agree with the Provera route (nice to know after the fact).  He came up with the theory that I wasn't ovulating.  We discussed that we were okay with getting pregnant, and he decided to just go ahead and treat me as infertile, even though it hadn't been a year.  The signs were there and his main goal was to get the bleeding and irregular cycle to stop. So he prescribed Chlomid.  I was to take it on day 5-9 of my cycle.  However, I wasn't positive what my actual cycle was! I was pre-bleeding for 2 weeks leading up to what I called an actual period.  He said go with my gut and choose the "actual period" as day 1.  

Enter time line into play -- day 1 just so happened to be the day we left for our cruise -- Happy Vacation! But since my cycle was a crazy cycle, I was fine by day 3 and enjoyed the cruise immensely! I took the medicine as prescribed days 5-9.  We weren't being intentional about paying attention to days after that (for those of you who don't know and want to know -- typical cycles work in 28 days, you ovulate somewhere in the middle -- day 12-14).  After all the issues of the year, I didn't expect the medicine to work so quickly let alone get pregnant.  

The next couple weeks went by and I realized I didn't have the irregular bleeding I had been having all year - Score!  The medicine worked! However, I did start to notice I wasn't feeling the best.  I told myself it was just side effects from the medicine and to not be crazy.  Well eventually, I started feeling more nauseous and achy.  I told myself it was a period coming, but in reality, I kept thinking, "the last time I felt like this was when I was pregnant with Bean. . . ".  I told Steve my thoughts and he just told me to stop being crazy.  When you take Chlomid, you have to have a blood test to check your levels.  I went and got the blood drawn on Monday and told myself to let the doctor contact me; besides, a period was to start on Friday.  By Wednesday, I was really feeling sick (and crazy!), so I called them.  They said my progesterone level was 60 - typically, they are looking for a number in the teens to indicate ovulation! Yikes.  I panicked. What does a high number mean?!  The nurse just said to wait to see if a period comes and then call back.  

I had told myself no pregnancy tests until a missed period.  We went to church that night and I had to chew gum the whole time because I was so nauseous.  As soon as we got home, I took a test.  I didn't even tell Steve.  If I was being crazy, I didn't want to admit it to him.  I wasn't crazy - the test was positive!  I immediately showed Steve and we just stared at each other - ha!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Visiting Friends in Cleveland

About a month ago (finally starting to catch up!), we headed up north to Cleveland to visit some friends from college! Steve took Friday afternoon off, so we headed out after lunch and let Bean fall asleep in the car on the way.  We made a couple of bonus stops en route.  First stop was at the Carousel in Mansfield. Mansfield has a carousel factory that produces a lot of the hand painted horses for carousels around the US. It was an older carousel and Bean wasn't too sure of it (let's be honest, it was no Disney horse!).  There's some new law that only allows 1 person on a horse at a time, so I had to stand next to her and hold her. There wasn't any safety strap, either, and I think Bean was nervous up there.  We bought tickets for 2 rides, and we weren't sure if she'd want to do it again, but she did.  We then loaded back in the car and drove another 30 minutes to stop at Grandpa's Cheese Barn.

There, we were able to walk around a meat and cheese store and try out tons of different samples.  Bean especially loved the pretzel sticks that you were able to use to try the different cheese dips.  We ended up getting some Apple butter, cheese and sausage.  Then we stopped at the little cafe inside and bought a cookie and milkshake - yum! From there, we finished the last hour of the drive and arrived to our friends' house just before by late afternoon.

Their kids were still at Daycare and it just so happened to be a special daycare night known as "Parent Survival Night".  For $20, you were able to leave your kids at the daycare for the evening.  The kids were fed pizza, popcorn, and they got to watch movies while parents got to do WHATEVER WE WANTED!  Our friends were able to arrange for Bean to be a part of the daycare night, given us some glorious kid-free time with our friends!  We chose to just go out to dinner and head back to their place for some board games (did I mention KID FREE?!?!).  We went back out to pick up the kids and tuck them into bed - it was delightful!

The next morning, we slept in a little bit (which is a rarity with Bean).  Alice was up early and went out and got us some donuts - yum! After a lazy morning, we decided to go visit a car museum which also had a carousel for the kids.  The kids could have cared less about the cars (they were behind ropes and you couldn't touch or get in them), but they loved the carousel.  Then we discovered there was another addition to the museum that included a kids learning/activity area.  So we let the kids loose in there for a little bit so they could play with blocks, food in a little log cabin, and such.  There may have been some slight meltdowns over leaving, but a promise of pizza as the next stop kept the kids moving.

(The kids loved playing in the big play room.  Bean could've stayed in there for hours if we'd let her. It was a little cold when the fire place wasn't on, so we bundled the kids up and let them loose.  I'd sit in the warm living room and watch through the glass doors while they played - ha!)

(All crammed in the van!  Mitch and Steve took the front, Bean and their two kids took the middle, while Alice and I shared the back.  We had to crawl in and out of the back -- raising and lowering the seat each time.)

(Kids playing in a boat at the car museum.  This boat was used by a guy to cross the Atlantic - I think.  He lived in this little boat for a couple months during his journey.  Hard to fathom!)

We stopped for a late lunch/early dinner at our favorite pizza place - Dewey's! We ate way too much pizza and decided it was time to head back to their house.  Some of the kids fell asleep in the car.  It wasn't a long enough nap (they never are) but it worked.  Kids were able to run around and play for a little bit before we decided it was early bedtime for them all! Once the kids were in bed, we stayed up playing some more board games and watching a Queen concert on the tv (because that's how we roll).

(Playing 7 Wonders -- It looks confusing, but it's a pretty easy game once you catch on. The first night we played games, we played on their kitchen table.  But the girls complained of the hard chairs for the second night and we got to play in the living room on the couches.  We had to make a makeshift table out of their ottoman.  The guys weren't keen on the set up -- had to reach the cards and not most practical.  But hey, at least we were on cushy seats?!)

(One of the very few pictures I have with Alice! I love this lady.  She's such a delight in my life.  Looking forward to meeting their new little one soon!)

On Sunday morning, we packed up our stuff and headed out for brunch at Hudson's cafe.  On the way there, Steve and I realized that we had actually eaten at the cafe with his friend a few years ago while we were en route to New Jersey.  It was as good as we remembered it and we had a great breakfast!  We left our friends and started our trek back home.  We nearly ran out of gas on the way home, which caused a stressful 30 minutes in the car, but we finally found a gas station that was open and all was well.  We got home in time to put Bean down for her nap.  Steve had a to-do list including fixing our mower and raking leaves while I tried to keep order in the house.  We had a great weekend and look forward to the next visit!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Happy Halloween

We headed to Cincinnati for Halloween weekend to spend some time with Steve's sister and her husband.  They have recently moved to a new neighborhood and there was a rumor that Halloween was an over-the-top affair with the neighbors.

We headed south on Saturday morning and met them for an early lunch. After lunch, we headed to EnterTRAINment Junction to look at a large indoor miniature train display.  Bean loved to push the buttons to make the trains go.  They had a Halloween craft area, a little maze you could walk through and get candy, and a big play place with tunnels and slides.  We had fun going through all the different activities and headed back to their house for nap time.

(Putting stickers on her free little pumpkin!)

(She also got to color a page.)

(Playing around in the fun house at EnterTRAINment junction.  They had these different maze rooms with themes - like space, fun house, mirrors, etc.  I think the adults had more fun than Bean in those rooms!)

We took it easy in the afternoon and built up the excitement for the trick-or-treating.   We ate a quick dinner and then put Bean back in her Orville (bird from the rescuers) costume.  Ashley was gonna take the first shift of trick-or-treaters while Scott, Steve, and I took Bean around to get some candy.  Scott ended up disappearing and Ashley met back up with us when we rounded the next street.  By house #3, Bean was a pro of going up, and saying, "tricks, treat".  Everyone thought she was dressed up as Amelia Earhart.  I guess Steve and I should've had our mouse costumes on to complete her ensemble.  Pretty soon, Bean's candy bag was getting very heavy and we called it quits.  We went back to sit with Scott while he passed out the rest of his candy.  Their neighborhood wasn't the over-the-top affair that we had expected, but it was still pretty good! All the neighbors just sat out in their yards with fire pits and had big buckets of candy next to them.  Some of the neighbors passed out snacks like cheese-its or fruit snacks, while others passed out whole candy bars; and a lot of the neighbors had separate candy options for little kids - like suckers and marshmallow treats.

(Daddy taking Bean out to get some candy.)

(She did great carrying her bag and asking for candy on her own!)

(Aunt Ashley took Bean up to some of the houses, too!)

(We let Bean pick a couple of different things from her haul while we sat outside with Ashley, Scott, and Tyson!)

We had plans on Sunday morning to go out to breakfast at one of their favorite pancake places, but the wait ended up being too long.  Luckily, the weather was nice enough that we could go to a little coffee shop that sold waffles on Sunday morning only.  Only caveat was that they only had outdoor seating.  It ended up working out great! We said goodbye after lunch and headed back home.

We did do a stop at Ikea on our way home (did you think we could ever go to Cincy and not stop at Ikea?!).  Bean enjoyed the freedom of being able to run around and try out some of the furniture.  Things were going great until it was time to pick up the furniture boxes we needed (we bought a desk).  We had let her ride on the furniture cart, but needed her to get off for the boxes.  Huge meltdown began.  I ended up taking her away to sit by the little cafe while Steve checked out.  The meltdown ensued until I finally just had to take her out of the store - kicking & screaming the whole time.  She hadn't slept well the night before and I quickly realized she was teething a molar (anytime she has a huge meltdown like this, and sleep is a problem, it's because of teeth).  I had medicine in the car that I gave her (between the screaming).  And she finally calmed down.  I picked Steve and the furniture up at the cargo load and we hit the road.  Bean was out before we got on the highway.  She ended up taking an early nap, which made the rest of the day long (nothing some leaf playing couldn't solve), but the trip (okay, maybe the bag of candy for Momma/Daddy) was totally worth it!

Bean loved to help us rake leaves this year! She had a little hand rake that she'd pretend to use, but then she would just pick leaves out of our piles and throw them around.  We'd toss her in the pile, too. She loved it all:

Monday, December 7, 2015

Bean is Two!

On October 16th, Bean turned TWO! It is hard for me to believe that she has been a part of our family for the past 2 years.  It's crazy to look back on pictures from when we first met her until now.  She's hit all her major milestones and has become quite the little girl.  I'm not exactly sure when it happened, but when I look at her now, I don't see the baby in her, I see a big girl!

(Who is this baby?!  She seriously is so small and looks so much different than my little blonde haired chatterbox!)

(At a year old, she looked much closer to what she looks like now, but look at those chubby baby cheeks!)

(Such a spunky 2 year old!)

Her personality has really developed too.  I see a lot of me in her (emotions, laughter, caring spirit, etc) and lots of Steve too (prefers order, tinkers with toys, focuses on her work, etc).  She is quite the little girl and is constantly making us laugh (even when we need to be disciplining her!).  I'm pretty sure she has figured out when mom turns her head the other way, it means I'm laughing.  I gotta work on that one!

(Oh this girl and her style! She has currently decided that she only wants to wear dresses -- ones with tutus to be exact.  She only owns about 3 like this and they are summery.  So we have to layer her in leggings, long sleeve shirts or sweaters, and socks to keep her warm.)

(Notice - another favorite dress! She's also recently picked up "dressing up" and will wear different hats or her tiger mask.  She also loves to make music and is found with various instruments - shaker, guitar, harmonica, kazoo, etc.  Oftentimes, she'll give Steve and myself instruments to play along with her while she plays and dances.)

(Along with dress up, she's discovered bracelets and necklaces.  It's cute to watch her stroll into a room decked out in play jewelry that she's put all over herself.)

She has always been a pretty independent child.  She likes to go off and play with toys on her own, but has started to make sure that Momma & Daddy are nearby.  She especially likes it when we color ("color daddy?"), do puzzles ("puzzle momma?"), play "Momma/Daddy" with little figurines, and play in caves (throw a blanket over us).  She'd choose to play with us for hours if she could, but she's good about accepting limited play time with us, then goes off and plays on her own.

(Playing with her baby doll.)

(She has a little table and chair set in the living room that she typically colors on.  However, her marker bin, papers, and chair often migrate over to the coffee table - better view of tv, ha!  And one time, she got very quiet while I was in the kitchen.  I came in to discover that she had moved her items to the floor and was deep in coloring!)

(Deep into chalk!)

She's becoming quite the little helper around the house, too.  Her favorite chore to help out with is unloading the utensils from the dishwasher.  She knows which drawers they go in and opens them up. Then she races back and forth from the dishwasher to throw the utensils in them.  It's an unorganized mess, but I appreciate the help.  I don't have to bend over to get the utensils out, I just have to quickly organize the drawer before closing.  She also has taken a liking to sweeping.  She'll drag the broom around the house and pretend she's cleaning the floor.  She tries to move the swiffer mop, too; but declares it, "too heavy".  She likes to use the duster too, but I don't think much dust is being taken care of.

(Getting the utensils from the washer.)

(Excitedly putting them in the drawer!)

Sleeping is going much better than it has.  She seems to go in spurts (usually coordinates with teething).  She's working on her last 3 molars coming in and they can't come in fast enough! We always can tell when one is working it's way up by her attitude and issues with sleeping (and the slobber and fingers constantly in her mouth).  Luckily, we are smarter about them coming in and haven't relived the weeks straight of no sleep like we did when her first set of molars came in earlier in the year.  Now, we just go ahead and give her some medicine around the clock and stay on top of the pain before it gets that bad.

("Get out of here Mom!"  -- something Bean gets from her dad - she HATES to get out of bed! Bean has been procrastinating her naps and ends up playing during the first part. I always make sure she is up by 4pm (she gets 1.5-2.5 hours of sleep).  Sometimes, I have to go in and wake her up and this is the face I got.  Most days, she's just sitting happily and playing with her bedtime collection.  When she wakes up, she just plays quietly, doesn't cry or call for me.  If we didn't have a video monitor, sometimes, I wouldn't know she's awake.)

(Bean's stuffed animal collection has grown exponentially recently.  She used to only sleep with her glow worm and blanket in bed, but now, she has smuggled her Duffey Bear, Ariel Baby, and a reindeer in bed with her -- along with her glow worm, 2 blankets, and water cup.  I'm not quite sure how she has room to sleep in there, too! She also insists on holding all her items while being changed - as seen above. Makes for an interesting diaper change!)

(She carries her collection from her bed downstairs to play in the mornings and after naps.  We then have to pick up Duffey, Ariel, and reindeer and take them back to bed.)

Eating on the other hand is a whole other story.  She's never been the best eater, but it has really gone down hill.  She hates to try new things and would rather martyr and not eat.  Her favorites still remain as mac'n'cheese, spaghetti, pizza, and cottage cheese.  We've also discovered that she'll eat tortillas with sour cream which helps to break up all that pasta! Another favorite is ketchup! She loves to use fries as a catalyst to just suck the ketchup.  Recently, she's been more about eating the fries and even devoured almost 2 chicken nuggets in 1 setting (that was a huge achievement!).  The only vegetable she'll eat (and ask for seconds and thirds) is carrots.  If it's a green vegetable, it is a guarantee that she won't even attempt to try it. She's pretty good with fruits, but it can be hit or miss.  Her most recent favorites are raspberries and bananas (she's lost her desire for grapes :-/).

She's always been more of a snacker and eats in small doses.  She loves to constantly snack on crackers and cheerios.  Her FAVORITE snack, however, is gummies (fruit snacks).  We've limited her to a pack a day, but if she had her way, it'd be the first thing she ate when she gets up.  She's started to take vitamins now which are also gummies.  At first, I snuck them into the fruit snakcs when I opened a pack, but now she asks for "gummies & 2 special gummies."  Breakfast is the easiest meal of the day - she eats a kids yogurt pouch followed by sharing a bagel/waffle/cereal/etc with me.

(Eating her new favorite snack -- peanut butter on a spoon!)

Her vocabulary (to me) is out of control. She does do a lot of repeating of words, but she also will say something to us and we have no idea where she got it.  She's either pieced stuff together from tv shows, or she's getting it from church.  Just yesterday I heard her singing "Twinkle Twinkle" and that's not a song I typically sing with her.  We usually sing "Row Row Row Your Boat", "Wheels on the Bus" and "Itsy Bitsy".  I'm also realizing how quickly she catches on to things.  Just this week, we introduced her to Rudolph, and now she's going around saying "Rudolph Red-Nose Reindeer.  Shiny nose!"  She also tries to sing "Frosty" and how he's happy.  But her favorite Christmas song is currently "Jingle Bells".  She runs around saying, "Jingle Bells.  Alllll the Waaaaaayyyyy!".

(She also has the whole grocery shopping figured out.  She gets a sucker while we shop and then rides the penny horse at the end.  When we get close to the registers, she immediately starts saying, "ride horse! ride horse!" Which is really funny because about 3 months ago she would cry about the horse and how she was afraid of it.  Now she gets on like a big girl, pushes the button by herself, and holds on.)

Next on the docket for her is to work on potty training.  She understands the concept and was terrified of the potty for awhile.  With some bribery and help of marshmallows, we are able to get her to sit on the potty for an extended period of time by singing songs.  However, she has yet to go into the potty.  Right now, I think she's more battling us because she wants to do things on her terms.  After the new year, we'll get serious about making it happen! We are also going to have to tackle her sleeping with her "packi" (pacifier).  She only uses it when she's in bed (or to sleep in the car on long trips).  I'm hoping these last few molars will come in and she won't miss sucking on it at night.